Ohio Wesleyan’s Professor Emeritus of Journalism, Verne Edwards, is becoming more tuned into technology every day, thanks to his new computer and the generosity of several of his former students.
Spearheaded by Tom Goodman ’76, owner of Goodman Media International, Inc., with hearty support from more than a dozen alumni and Edwards’ two daughters, Nancy Johnson and Debby Burke, the effort to, as Goodman says, “bring technology and the world of journalism into Verne’s home” on behalf of all of his former students, became a reality just a few short months ago.
Goodman has called Edwards to stay in touch a few times a year, always thinking how wonderful it would be to also communicate via e-mail.
“Then it dawned on me that here is a professor who taught us so much about journalism and ethics, and who needs to tap into the world of technology,” recalls Goodman. Putting a plan into action, he and fellow alumnus Chip Visci ’75, associate vice president of strategic communications at California Polytechnic State University, began contacting several alumni who had graduated from OWU in the 1970s and 80s.
“I knew we could raise the money [for a computer] in a nanosecond,” says Visci. Within hours of e-mailing several former classmates, the duo had raised more than half of the money needed, reaching their goal a few days later. The possibility of e-mail correspondence with Edwards was actually about to happen for Visci and the other alumni.
“Not only has Verne been an inspiration to all of us, he also is a terrific writer,” says Visci. “His razor-sharp commentary is delightful, although I must admit it wasn’t always pleasant when the bull’s eye of his red pencil was my work on The Transcript.” It was Edwards’ critiques during lessons and his passion about journalism and its role in our democracy—and the high standards he set for reporting, editing, writing, and professional ethics—that all of Edwards’ students remember most.
“It’s no secret that Verne was demanding in the classroom and about the work we did on The Transcript,” says Tom Jolly ’77, associate managing editor of The New York Times, sharing how attentive and helpful Edwards also was to his students outside of the classroom as well as to his former students.
“I don’t know where my career would have gone if he hadn’t been there to help me get back into journalism after a two-year foray into politics right out of college.” Realizing that wasn’t the path he wanted to follow Jolly turned to Edwards, who then recommended him for a job at The Delaware Gazette.” And the rest is history. Jolly’s sentiments are shared by many other Ohio Wesleyan journalism graduates who had the opportunity to learn from the legendary Verne Edwards.
“I had many first-rate professors at OWU, but I frequently tell people that Verne was the greatest college professor anyone ever had, anywhere,” says Gordon Witkin ’77, managing editor at the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit group focused on investigative journalism. “Major credit goes to Tom Goodman for initiating and organizing this effort. Given how little of journalism is on paper these days, the idea of Verne not having access to the Internet was really unthinkable.”
The following OWU alumni contributed toward Edwards’ new computer, on behalf of all of his former students: Bob DiBiasio ’77, Jeff Fruit ’74, John Glascott ’75, Tom Goodman ’76, Sue Headden ’77, Jim Henke ’76, Tom Jolly ’77, Rick Jones ’74, Rick Marks ’74, Bruce Mohl ’76, Greg Moore ’76, Byron Pitts ’82, Tom Stinson ’75, Chip Visci ’75, and Gordon Witkin ’77.
With his new Dell computer stationed on his desk at home, Edwards is busy these days working with his computer tutor, learning about the power and pitfalls of computer technology. Within hours after another of Edwards’ students, Rick Marks ’74 departed from a visit at the Edwards home, an e-mail note of thanks had been sent to the alumni group by their professor.
While Edwards claims he has no interest in blogging, he likes the e-mail opportunity he now has.
“This [computer] was a marvelous gift and I do appreciate the wonderful thing my former students have done for me.”
Edwards’ new e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.